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Dear Readers,

True to our name, the International

Communes Desk presents you with a
truly international issue of C.A.L.L.,
laden with articles which feature
communities spanning the globe.
We feature reports on eco-villages,
collectives, communes and kibbutzim
from China, Russia, Australia,
Germany, Austria, Canada, Ethiopia,
UK and Israel. That's five continents I If you are
looking for something rural or urban, well-established or relatively
new, big or small, income-sharing or not, we have it all here.
Much research has gone into the phenomena of virtual
communities, and although they can no way replace the face-to
face interaction which living with others engenders, they do
enable us to share knowledge, experiences and opinions with like
minded others from around the world.
With a view to nurturing a safe, user-friendly, aesthetically
pleasing and engaging environment in which to communicate
with one another, we're in the process of updating our rather
rickety old website with a brand spanking-new one. It will include
more up-to-tlate information, articles, a forum, and pdf versions of
our publications - C.A.L.L. in English, and our revived Hebrew
publication KOL. You can keep track of our progress at Come give us a visit,
and keep coming back because we'll be adding to it all the timel
As we celebrate here in Israel the looth year of kibbutz, I'd like to
leave you with a few wise words from one of the founding fathers
of the first kibbutz,Joseph Baratz:
Mutual aid was the basis for our work and success. We
regarded the group as our family and aspired to create a just
way of life... We opted for our unique way of life because it
fit our ideals. We aspired to establish a small unit, a just
society which might serve as a model for others.
This 'model' has indeed been an inspiration for 'others'. Many
around the world have looked to kibbutz as the example for what
is achievable with a combination of belief and hard-work. In Israel,
with over four generations of community-building already behind
us since Baratz, together with ten other visionaries, formed
Degania, and despite reports to the contrary, the communal idea
and practice is experiencing a rebirth and is starting to flourish
again. Here's to the next 100 years!
You can send us your suggestions, corrections, contributions and
retributions regarding C.A.L.L., or our new website, to the usual
email address,
100 Years of Kibbutz.
Michael Livni
Dancins Rabbit
Ecovillase. USA
Nanje Villase. China
Land of Plent",. Russia
KaleidoscOPe bv Joel
Kibbutz Shorts
Jindibah Communiw.
Green Livins Thrives in
Kommuja. German",
(CSA Conference.
Mackenzie Heishts
Collective. Canada
Awra Amba. Ethiopia
By Michael Livni, Kibbutz Lotan
The 100
anniversary celebration of kibbutz, held in Degania on Oct. 4, 2010 and the
special session of the Israeli parliament marking the anniversary recognized the
seminal role the kibbutz played in the Zionist movement and in the establishment of
the state, Significantly, the emphasis was on past achievements. Focus on the future
was avoided. The facts on the ground are that many Israelis view the kibbutz as an
anachronistic icon.
Currently, one-quarter of the kibbutz movement is collective. In the last twenty
years, the rest have opted for differential wages and have, in effect, become a class
society. There is no longer a kibbutz "movement". The "movement" is an organization
of kibbutzim whose function is to further common (mainly economic and legal)
Significantly, kibbutzim - including most of the collective kibbutzim- are no longer
intentional communities. In the beginning, the intention of the kibbutzim was to
pioneer a community based value-world which, in micro, wpuld point the way and lead
to the value world of future Israeli society in macro. The kibbutzim drew ideological
inspiration both from the prophetic tradition of social justice in the Jewish heritage
as well as from various streams of socialism current at the beginning of the 20
century. True, the kibbutzim were also the willing handmaidens of the Zionist
establishment in creating an agricultural and military infrastructure for the nascent
state. This was critically important for Israel's establishment to which the kibbutzim
saw themselves as full partners. However, it was not the ultimate purpose of the
The state of Israel exists. The spirit of the times in the Western world (very much
including Israel) is post-modern, neo-liberal and focuses on individual self-fulfillment
rather than the collective good. Yes, there is a back-lash. The evidence is the
emergence of city kibbutzim and communeS in Israel which see themselves as
intentional communities impacting on the social and geographic periphery of Israeli
On November 17th - 18
, the collective stream of the kibbutz movement met in
Israel's far South where kibbutzim constitute a bastion of the collective spirit and
ideology. The motto chosen for the convention was liThe Next Hundred Years of
Collective Cooperation", The collective stream declared itself to be an "autonomous
union" within the kibbutz movement. Will the crack lead to a split?
Stay tuned. The jury of history is still out on the verdict of IInow what and for what"
will the kibbutz be in the 21
Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage is an intentional community in Rutledge, Missouri: USA, . . ..
practicing ecological sustainabilify. Here is a report from November 2010. written by
member Alline Anderson. who originallyhal1s from the San Francisco area.
If you had asked me, when I first
moved to Dancing Rabbit eleven years
ago, what I thought life here would
look like, I probably would have waxed
rhapsodic about a simple life - relaxing
in front of the fire in the winter,
growing vegetables in the summer,
taking long leisurely walks in the fall. I
imagined spending a lot of time
chatting with friends, lounging in the
sunshine and reading, baking crusty
loaves of bread to be topped with
home-made jam, and generally living the
from roads (where they go, what they
are made of, where the drainage is,
what they are named), to cemeteries
(what will they be like - rows of
markers or a more natural conservation
area? Do we allow embalming? Who can
be buried here?), to energy policy
(should we start planning for a huge
wind turbine?), to pets (how many free
roaming dogs are too many? What
about cats and songbirds?), to social
events (who is hosting Thanksgiving
this year? What will we do for New
Year's?). We do it
all. And it takes
hours and hours
and hours.
Additionally, when
something happens
here at Dancing
Rabbit, good or
bad, we are the
ones we call. Is
good life.
In the years sin!=e
my arrival I have
found that reality
is often in
conflict with my
vivid imagination.
I have also
learned that
compromises are
required in virtually every part of my
life, and that the simple life requires a
lot of work.
While lounging and relaxing are
certainly a part of my Ecovillage life,
they are just a teeny little smidgen
part. Unlike life in well-established
towns and villages, members of. Dancing
Rabbit spend an inordinate amount of
time creating structure for ourselves.
This is enormously time-consuming, but
also enormously gratifying. Imagine
being able to have a say in every
decision made about your community
that downpour flooding the road and
the Community Building? Then we had
better all get out there with shovels to
divert the flow, since we can't exactly
call MoDot. An outbreak of chicken pox
among the children, and we have a
pregnant member and several members
with compromised immune systems? We
had better figure out a way to keep
everyone safe and healthy while taking
care of the little itchy ones. So-and
so's dog snapped at someone? We had
better evaluate what happened and
take appropriate action, since we will
not be calling Animal Control. Maikwe's
roof just blew off? Well, let's get over
there and cover up the hole so the rain
doesn't get in.
We all serve on at least one committee;
most of us serve on several. There are
committees for virtually everything:
Long Term Planning, Kids, Pets, Vehicle
Co-op, Land Use Planning, Tree Team,
Outreach, Development, Oversight,
Goals & Priorities, Membership,
Land Clean, Donations, Infectious
Disease, Roads, Parking Lots,
Conflict Resolution, Mem Dem
column, Retreat Planning, Decision
In addition to all of this we are
raising much of our own food,
chopping and hauling fir:ewood,
building homes, educating children,
running businesses, and trying to
demonstrate that it all can be
The Community of Dancing Rabbit
What do I like best about our chosen
way of life? We get to live here, with
people we respect and admire. We are
living lives that feel true to our values,
even if we might not have everything
figured out yet. We get to observe the
seasons changing on 280 gorgeous
acres of rolling hills and prairie that we
are restoring and stewarding. We get
to watch our children and the children
of our friends grow and flourish. We
have a community with which to share
the triumphs and celebrations, as well
as sadness and disappointments.
So in this season of Thanksgiving, I
would like to express gratitude to all of
my fellow Dancing Rabbit members,
both past and current. Thank you for
all of the time you give to make this a
better place to live. Thank you for the
hours you spend on committee work.
Thank you for all of the little things
you do to improve our village, working
behind the scenes, that no one ever
knows about. Thank you for all of the
things you do that feel
unacknowledged. You are making a
difference. And you are appreciated.
Thank you also to all of the families and
friends of Rabbits, whose support is
invaluable. Thank you to those of you in
the wider community who have become
friends over the years - you help to
make our lives here rewarding and full.
Thank you all!
Life in one of China1s last communes
In the village of Nanjie in northern China, workers begin the day by singing in praise of the
country's former leader Mao Zedong. More than three decades after his death, Chairman
Mao is still remembered fondly across China, but in Nanjie he has a special significance.
The village is one of the country's last remaining communes, where workers still abide by
many of the former chairman's principles.
Most communes were disbanded years ago as China's leaders began to turn the country's
planned economy into one governed by the market. But the Nanjie commune is still going
strong, providing its residents with their daily needs. Few people want to see it disappear.
Economic disaster
Mother-of-one Hu Xinhe is one of the
commune's 4,000 or so permanent residents.
"I feel very relaxed and secure living in
Nanjie. Whether we're talking about work or
life in general, I'm very satisfied," said the
As China's Communist Party celebrates 60
years in power this week, it is emphasising
the country's bright future. But this
commune is a reminder that some people
think the past had much to offer. Nanjie lies
members. He was asSigned this three-bedroom
apartment and nearly all the furniture in it, down to in the rural heartland of Henan province.
Villagers have just harvested their crop of
the sofa cushions.
corn, which is currently drying on roadsides
and in open spaces around Nanjie. The
commune also has a number of small food-processing factories that make products such as
beer, chocolate, hot sauce and noodles. Some noodles are even sold abroad - to Australia, the
US and Canada.
Collective ownership
But there are reminders that capitalist ventures are not the main goal. A statue of Mao takes
pride of place in the vi lIage square. It is flanked by giant posters of other communist
revolutionaries, such as Lenin and Stalin.
With its dean and tidy streets, Nanjie looks well-ordered and pleasant.
Communes were formed in the late 1950s as Chairman Mao tried to force rural people to live
a more communist way of life. Villagers had to pool their land, animals, tools and crops, and
work for the collective.
Zunxian Huang, 71, is one of about 3,000 commune
In the early years, communes proved to be an economic disaster; they contributed to the
deaths of millions of people through starvation between 1958-61. They were finally
abandoned in the early 1980s as villagers began to farm their own plots of land.
But a handful of communes - like the one in Nanjie - stayed as they were.
Wang Hongbin, the village's Communist Party secretary, said it had been the people
themselves who had not wanted to disband the commune.
"They chose to have collective ownership. And if people want it, we - the party - have a
responsibility to carry on with this system," he said.
Struggle to pay
In Nanjie, workers continue to toil for low wages, but in return are provided for in other
ways by the commune. "I earn about 400 yuan a month ($59; 37), but get very good welfare
benefits," said Mrs Hu, who works as a quality control inspector in the village condiment
factory. "I get free medical care and housing - even gas, water and electricity are free."
Her son, nine-year-old Wang Haoyuan, also gets free education in the commune's schools. The
collective will even pay for him to go to university. It is this kind of security that makes life
in Nanjie commune so attractive.
When China embarked on economic reforms in 1978, many benefits, particularly for China's
farmers, disappeared. They can now sell their own crops for profit, but some still struggle to
pay school fees for their children or medical bills when they are sick.
Tens of millions of farmers have decided they cannot
make ends meet and have left their villages to seek work
in China's booming cities.
Uncertain future
Villagers who live near the Nanjie commune look on with
envy at those inside.
One woman, surnamed Liu, said: "Living in Nanjie is so
good - everything is supplied by the village. Although their
salaries are low, they don't have to worry about other
"Our village doesn't give us many benefits, and I can't
survive by farming alone.
Nanjie collective does have its critics, some of whom point out that it is not as communist as
it makes out.
They claim the commune is in debt and does not treat its outside workers as well as it does
permanent residents. They also point out that it tries to trade on its communist credentials
by encouraging tourists to visit.
There is a special hotel for visitors where workers wear military-style uniforms, presumably
to reinforce the village's revolutionary history.
But while the commune may have its flaws, the people who live here say they genuinely believe
in its aims.
At a time when the wealth gap between rich and poor is rising in China and life is uncertain
for many, Nanjie offers the security and certainty of a bygone era.
Commune worker Hu Xinhe gets a
range of benefits
Abandoning the metropolis for a better future
Russia's new homesteaders: from city life to wilderness utopia
By Anna Nemtsova, special to Russia Now (
November, 15 2010
Thousands of Russian professionals
have lost hope for a better life in
cities. They have taken to the forests
to create their own utopias
independent of the state. The eco
movement has increased several fold in
recent years.
Yevgenia Pystina is a
medical doctor who
was once a scientist
at the Novosibirsk
Medical Institute,
the prestigious
research facility in
Siberia's largest
city. Three years ago,
her husband, a
concert pianist, told
her about some green
movement activists living off the grid
on communal land about 75 miles north
of Novosibirsk, along the banks of the
Ob River.
"I laughed at his fairy tale but he said,
'let me take you there, so you see with
your own eyes'" she recalled. "That is
how we arrived here and stayed."
Pystina, her husband, and her seven
and e\ght-year-o\d daughters now live
among 51 other families in the Land of
Plenty commune whose members range
in age from one to 91.
New communities of homesteaders
have sprung up across some of the
most remote sections of Russia in the
past decade, including Siberia,
attracting thousands
of Russians in search
of a simple, self
sufficient and
friendly lifestyle
free from state
control and big city
The number of \I eco
communes," as they
are called in Russia, has grown
dramatically in the Jast decade, and the
movement back to the land is drawing
professionals weary of the country's
corruption, pollution and new
A tall, slim woman, with a long dark
braid, Pystina sings through her busy
day, stacking cabbage heads on her
veranda, pouring her honey in cans for
The Land of Plenty ecological commune in
south-central Siberia offers an escape
from city life
the winter, and painting eggs with her
daughters, Angelina and Pol ina.
"Since the day I moved to the Land of
Plenty commune, my new interests in
art, singing, science and agriculture
wake me up every morning," she said.
Each household contributes something
to the common good at Land of Plenty,
members said. The family of Valery
Popov, a former physicist, helps
newcomers build their log cabins. The
Nadezhdins, a family of dentists, serve
as the commune's
bakers. Klavdiya Not everyone is
Ivanova, a former charmed by the
music teacher, is romantic
famous for her hand aspirations of
made, traditional these activists. The
clothes. Russian Orthodox
Church has
Land Of Plenty is situated
Her husband, a former
criticized the communes as
north of Novosibirsk
army officer, helps the
sects selling false Gods.
And some suspicious local authorities in
rural areas have challenged the
attempts of various communes to
establish ownership of the land they
have homesteaded.
Environmentalists at the Land of Plenty
commune said they are not a threat,
and every house is open to guests who
want to visit and sample the commune's
honey, pumpkin pies, and goat milk.
They also stress their differences with
some of the religious communes that
have also emerged in RUSSia at the
same time.
Organic farming forms the basis of the
vegetarian diet followed by the
commune members. Families here also
believe in home schooling their children
with members with particular expertise
teaching that subject area. Pystina, for
instance, teaches chemistry.
commune recycle.
"All my life, I've been a part of the
system: at school, as a university
student, then as a faithful officer but
the system fell apart before my eyes,
destroyed by liars, by thieves, by
outrageously corrupt managers," said
Dmitry Ivanov, offering a commonplace
rationale for many people seeking a new
life at the commune. "We are here to
create a new social model free,
professional and self-confident
individuals. And it is focused on
decreasing our negative impact on the
environment ."
It is hard to get exact numbers of
RUSSia who have moved intothe
wilderness. But clearly the numbers are
growing. Dozens of ecological
settlements have emerged in the last
two years in the Altai Mountains,
Karelia and on the Volga.
Here we publish a letter and photos we received from a reader from
I Franziskusgemeinschaft, a small religious community in rural Austria.
14th August, 2010
Dear Anton, Dear Joel,
After reading C.A.L.L. No. 32, I thought I might write to answer the question: how
are communities doing when their members get older and no new younger ones join?
The Franziskusgemeinschaft was founded in 1981 - at that time 7 grown-ups and 8
children. The community has grown to 16 members (4 married couples, 8 singles) and
3 children. Living with us is one older relative who is 90 and needs 24/7 care and one
"homeless" person who has been with us already 6 years! We have many, many guests,
often up to 3 months at a time. At the moment we have a 43 year old Congolese living
with us for 5 months.
The members have gotten
older. Our founder, Fritz
Giglinger, is 75 and our
youngest member is 44.
The years have taken their
toll - but we still manage
our farm, our daily life,
the seminars, the
handcrafts etc quite well
our many guests are a
great help, but we have to
plan changes: from two
cows to one, less sheep,
less bees etc. However we enjoy the fact that although we haven't grown into a larger
movement, we have left our footprint very definitely in the Austrian countryside.
We live in community of goods, all work in the community, we have a good daily
structure and "fear not the future!" So far we have cared for and buried 2 members,
we don't really know how things will develop when, in 10 years, we are aU that much
older, but we trust in God and each other that things will work out.
New members are hard to come by - people tend to love it here, are delighted that
we live this way but in the end don't want to give up their private income or their
Our community house - we built it ourselves
"freedom" and go back to their old way of life with their stress, their jobs, their
debts etc.
We come together at 6:00, 12:00 and 18:00 for prayers, work and eat and cook
together. We take in refugees, help people in need, share our income and goods with
others, travel to countries in the third world to help and encourage people in need.
We try to live a simple life, not to consume things, to eat the food that grows in our
gardens and fields (rather than strawberries in December) to use less and give more.
We lead a very fulfilling life. Wouldn't change it for the world!
Shlomo Etzioni [the late former general secretary of the rCD] visited us years ago.
That was wonderful! We are very good friends with the Bruderhof and have learned
and profited from this
friendship. They visit us, we
visit them.
Our children, (there were 11 at
one time living here) have not
joined our community, but
come often, love it here,
appreciate our way of life
they are all wonderful, caring
people - that is the most
important thing for us.
We older oneS have given over
many responsibilities to the younger members and do our best to support them as
they continue to form and lead the community.
So, thanks for C.A.L.L. - we send you twice a year our magazine "Francesco" in return,
and are grateful for your work. Come and visit us!
God's blessing bring you peace and happiness,
Susie Reitlinger
Am Kalvarienberg 5
7423 Pinkafeld
Bringing in the potatoes
The Communitarian Scene from all Over and Under
Compiled (and partly translated) by
Witnessing the next, imminent global conflict looming ominously
over the Near and Far Eastern political horizon, I felt bound to ask
myself - and not just as a purely rhetorical question, but rather a
very realistic, rational one - where do we stand and what should I
do as an Israeli Jew, a kibbutznik and incidentally also as a human
being - if I happen to find myself caught in the middle of a fight which is not mine and I
would be obliged to take a stand on either side?
For some people this is mainly a question of theology or at best of faith, any faith, be it
religious or secular or philosophical or whatever, provided only that you belong to that very
rare species who practice what they believe, even under extreme circumstances. This brings
to my mind a discussion between some Jewish Israeli Kibbutz members of the Urfeld Circle
and a few of our German Catholic partners from the Integrierte Gemeinde, whom we
consider as the liberal wing of Christianity. One of their priests, who are a special breed by
themselves, a smart, well educated, open minded person frankly admitted that his father had
been a ranking commander in the notorious SS-troops. "I once asked my father, whether he
had taken any part in the horrendous persecutions of German Jews. Be denied it, but I didn't
believe him. By the way, at wars end he became a teacher in our local school. I tried to have
him dismissed, but that was hopeless. There wasn't much choice: after the end ofWW1, when
Germany laid in ruins (a fact which is hardly ever mentioned in German school-books or in
class .. ) and the municipalities had to reconstitute some kind of half-normal life, there were
few teachers, judges and physicians, not to mention civil servants and policemen - available,
who hadn't been actively involved, or at least had collaborated, with the Nazi authorities. I
frequently had to ask myself, how would I have reacted under similar circumstances, when
just a few words of dissent could have constituted a death warrant?"
This unexpected statement left me somewhat dismayed, until I happened to get hold of the
latest "Plough", (no. 53 of Autumn 2010) from what used to be the Bruderhof, recently
renamed "Church Communities International". There it was, right under my eyes - part of
the answer to my musings, in several variations: from the life story of the late Siegfried
Ellwanger, beginning with his enrollment into the "Bitler Youth", through his draft into the
army, his assignment first to the eastern and later to the western front where he was captured
and held as a POW. But let us go back to the beginning:
Like millions of Germans of his generation, Siegfried joined the junior branch "Of tl')e Hitler Youth at
ten, and thrived in the atmosphere of camaraderie and community he found there.
We would march in uniform, sporting banners, fanfares, and drums; there were camping
holidays, solstice celebrations, torchlight processions, and tests of courage. Our slogans - one
for all, and all for one, and service before self - filled us with enthusiasm. We learned about
our Fuhrer and his plans for a wonderful new Germany. Patriotic films shook us to the depths
of our young souls. We were taught to be utterly devoted to the Fatherland; ready to die for
it, proud and laughing. Could there possibly be anything greater?
Nazism's sinister aspects lurked in the shadows. Jewish classmates disappeared, as did the family's
Jewish doctor. But the official explanations satisfied him, as they did most young people: We were
told they had moved abroad, or gone to work in labor camps". In any case, such uncomfortable issues
were sidelined by more pressing ones: inflation, mass unemployment. and political instability - and
Hitler's promises to solve them decisively.
At 18, Siegfried was drafted, and headed off for battle with the Fuhrer's call for a new -German
kingdom of honor and power" ringing in his ears. The echoes faded quickly. By December 1942. he
found himself on the eastern front, marching toward Stalingrad behind a horse-drawn artillery wagon
in knee-deep snow, biting winds, and subzero temperatures.
Ruined villages - abandoned farms - frostbite and fear of death - the stomach-churning discovery of
a gully full of dead young Russians - all this gnawed at the young soldier. "What
had these men done to me?" he asked himself. "Why did they have to die? For
what? For whom?"
Sometime later his company captured an enemy platoon. Meeting the prisoners
face to face he realized, to his horror, that they were not subhuman
monsters, as he had been indoctrinated to believe, but "human beings just like
us, sighing with relief that their lives had been spared."
Imprisoned first in one POW camp, and then another, and then held in France
for three years of forced labor (until 1948). Siegfried had no shortage of
lonely hours during which to consider the nightmare of the previous years, and Siegfried Ellwanger
to solidify his deepening conviction that war was a senseless. unnecessary evil.
It wasn't only the wreckage around him - the bombed-out towns, empty-eyed mothers, and endless
heaps of rubble - but a sickening realization that the glamorous propaganda of the Third Reich had
masked the most devilish regime imaginable:
Now I heard the terrible reality: that millions of Jews had been murdered - killed in
concentration camps, tortured and tormented. along with countless other so-called inferior
peoples. Germans, too, had lost their lives!. after having recognized Hitler and the Nazis (for
what they were). and reSisting them. What did it mean now, that my life had been saved?
In contemplating the past, Siegfried refused to take shelter in the thought (common enough among
soldiers of his generation) that he had simply "done his duty" or been swept helplessly along by the
tides of history. or fate. On the contrary. he felt personally responsible for his past - and so strongly
that he saw his stint of forced labor as an act of contrition:
These years. which brought me into dose contact with people I had previously fought, meant a
great deal to me. despite the long separation from my loved ones. Indeed, I could accept this
time as a kind of penance for my involvement in the war.
There seems to be some kind of virus going around, infecting newsletters with items about
WWII, the Holocaust and Israel. Could that perhaps be a belated result of the activities of all
kinds of voluntary associations all over the world that have patiently spread information
about the fate of the Jews in Germany during the Nazi regime and the fate,of a few righteous
ones who tried to resist - and paid dearly for it? Actually, nowadays almost everybody is
ready to believe almost everything about the human beast, contrarily to that period when
some escaped Auschwitz inmate arrived at the synagogue in a little Polish shtetl and warned
the inhabitants of what was happening and what was in store for them - but they took him
for a madman and dispatched him to the nearest asylum.
"An Embassy Besieged" tells us the story ofthe Rhoen Bruderhofpeople, who tried for a
short period to stand up to Hitler's henchmen, of course without success. After many years
the Bruderhofers, who emigrated to England and later to South and North America, have
made several attempts to re-establish themselves in Germany, but have encountered many
obstacles due to what appears to the local inhabitants as outlandish customs and goals. We
appreciate their courage and perseverance all the more because of it.
An Embassy Besieged
The Story if a Christian Community in Nazi Germany
A new book by Emmy Barth
Here, for the first time in print, is the story of a group of Christian dissidents who dared to confront
Adolf Hitler and his Third Reich with the love of Jesus Christ. Avoiding covert resistance on the one
hand and complicity and compromise on the other, the little communal congregation known as the
Rhoen Bruderhof boldly witnessed to the politics of the kingdom of God at the risk of their lives.
Although conscious that they were, on the words of their courageous leader Eberhard Arnold, "less
than a gnat to an elephant," this small cell of men and women were confident that as God's
ambassadors, their best weapon against the evils of National Socialism was love. The dramatic account
of a community that stayed true to the nonviolent way of the Cross despite the relentless opposition
of a dictatorship that threatened to snuff it out, this story is also a remarkable example of God's
protection and leading in a dark time.
Now to "The Leaves of Twin Oaks" that provides us as usual a little vignette that holds a lot
of significance, served with a smile and a rather promising caption: Politics at Twin Oaks by
Here at Twin Oaks, we generally consider ourselves beyond conventional conversation restraints; this
becomes immediately obvious by listening to a mealtime discussion of the lurid details of gruesome
symptoms related to the latest sickness going around.
When it comes to talking about politics, it becomes a little more complicated. There are certain topicS
that we can all discuss with ease and generally agree upon. However, somehow there are others that
are more like opening a can of worms while walking through a field of landmines...
Acceptable: global warming and polar icecap melt
More delicate: what temperature to set the communal hot-water heater, and the ecological
implications of using ice-cubes
Acceptable: Obama versus Hillary
A bit trickier: Organic versus Local
Acceptable: increasing water shortages and the evils of the bottled-water industry
Tread carefully: the fact that a certain communard-who-shall-remain-nameless replaced the low-flow
shower head with one that delivers the approximate force and volume-per-minute of Niagara falls,
without any process.
Acceptable: the discriminatory aspects of impending US immigration policy
Walking on eggshells: our membership process about whether to accept athat controversial visitor
from the last visitor period.
Acceptable: gay marriage
Call in the Process Team: your lover announces their desire to form a polyamorous triad with that
statuesque blonde who arrived as a new member last week .....
Camphill Correspondence (may we suggest a slightly shorter name: "Camphill Courier"?),
treats us on its cover page to a recently discovered painting by Hermann Gross "the
Annunciation" and right under it a somewhat coarse, but very effective citation by Wendell
Berry, and we sign off with a very thoughtful piece about what Harriett Sherwood chose to
call "Israel's Utopian Dream"
Rats and roaches live by competition under the laws of supply and demand; it is the privilege of human
beings to live under the laws of justice and mercy.
Wendell Berry
Where now for Israel's utopian dream?
The Guardian
By Harriet Sherwood
Today, of the 273 kibbutzim in Israel, only about 60 still operate on a truly communal basis, in which
all members are paid the same basic sum whatever their work, with services provided by the
collective. Most of the rest have introduced reforms in response to what the Kibbutz movement calls
"a severe socio-economic crisis [that] threatened the future of numerous kibbutzim - they owed huge
debts to the banks and thousands of young people were leaving the communities. The kibbutzim were
in danger of falling apart."
The principal reforms were to introduce differential wages and privatise some of the services. It was
not an easy process. George Ney, 74, who has lived at Kfar Hanasi for almost 50 years, recalls in a
memoir: "It was a long, slow process, whose milestones were intense and sometimes bitter discussions.
The embers of our idealism haven't died out, and we even have a few firebrands still, but today I
think there is little doubt that the side of the individual outweighs the one of the community."
At Kfar Hanasi, the debate began in earnest when, in the early 1980s, the kibbutz discovered it was
bankrupt. "We weren't earning enough to cover our standard of living," Ney says now, recalling people
who left electric fires on all day
when they were at work because
they were not responsible for
individual bills.
The reforms included making
individual members pay for
services such as electricity,
telephones, postage and laundry
out of an allowance. The communal
dining room - previously the heart
of the kibbutz - which had served
three free meals a day, introduced
charges and eventually closed.
Previously, the slogan had been
"whatever the kibbutz decides";
now it became "personal choice", Degania, established 100 years ago this year.
according to Ney's memoir.
But the "earthquake" was the introduction of differential wages. It turned the kibbutz philosophy on
its head. "The jobs we once thought were the elite jobs - phySical work in the fields and orchards
turned out to pay the least," recalls Ney. Managers were paid more than labourers, and productivity
was rewarded. The kibbutz factory was sold to a private investor, a bed and breakfast enterprise to
attract tourists was launched.
Other kibbutzim around Israel were facing their own earthquakes. Degania Aleph, the first kibbutz to
be established in, October 1910, and where the centenary celebrations will take place in the autumn,
voted three and a half years ago to partially privatise itself. It was a hugely symbolic moment.
The members receive an allowance based on their jobs, although the differential between the lowest
and highest paid is capped at around 2570. The kibbutz provides housing, health, education and all
community services. "We wanted to keep the old idea of the collective but also to be connected to the
outSide world," says Shay Shoshany, Degania's elected chairman. Ninety-five per cent of the members
voted in favour of the reforms, he says. "The world around us has changed, and we can't be an island."
Other kibbutzim are holding firm to the collective ideal, where everyone is paid the same regardless
of what they do. At Kibbutz So'ram, a few kilometres from the Lebanese border, 90% of the
community still take three meals a day in the communal dining room, where the food is excellent and
free. Raviv Gutman, 42, was born at Ba'ram, left for seven years and returned 12 years ago. There has
been some change, he concedes, citing the fact that cigarettes and televisions are no longer
distributed free.
To an outsider, it seems a model of collective living. Everything from nappies to piano lessons are
provided for children; there are 100 communal cars that members can book on the kibbutz intranet:
jobs are allocated by a committee; there is a gym, a swimming pool, a theatre showing movies and
shows, even a kibbutz pub that opens two evenings a week. Members who choose to work outside the
kibbutz pay their entire salary into a central fund. Even the climate is good. "We don't have a problal.
with people leaving [the kibbutz]," says Gutman. "Why would you want to leave? People have a good WIt
L~ :=.Cheers, bye, Joel Dorkam
~ - = ~ ~ ~ 2 ~ ~ 16
Welcome to "Kibbutz Shorts",
where we discover what's new
on the Kibbutz in an update
from around Israel.
Compiled mainly from the
Kibbutz weeklies by Yoel Darom,
Kibbutz Kfar Menachem
A Whole Century Long
This is a very special year for many of us: dozens of festivals, story-telling, film shows and
exhibitions, memorials and all kinds of artistic performances, and of courSe lots of soul
searching and festive speeches given up and down this country to celebrate a Hundred Years
of Kibbutz. It was in 1910 - before the First World War - that a group of 6 people (5 men
and one woman) said: we are fed up with working for others, we shall prove that a group of
workers is able to do their jobs without the constant interference of managers and
organizers. They did, and did well, and with much courage and a profound Socialist drive, with
deep conviction that they were laying the foundations for a homeland for Jews all over the
world - became the first Kibbutz. They named themselves Degania, a field flower; some new
people joined them in the hottest corner of this country, but when they counted 16 members
and a small group of youngsters came to join them, they refused: if this Kibbutz is going to
realize its vision to fulfill the place of the "New Familyll, we cannot grow without limits, and
split into two. Now we have Degania A and Degania B, but in course of the century both
Kibbutzim grew far away from the New-Family concept and each of them holds today a few
hundred members and children (fifth generation).
Are We Still A Kibbutz?
During the last 10-20 years, while many Kibbutzim went through the difficult period of
planning and implementing deep changes in their life, many said: this is definitely the end of
the Kibbutz. Finito! They - most of them of the older generation - fought a courageous
battle against the new trends, but in most Kibbutzim they had to retreat under the pressure
of the majority who went along with the IImodernization
of the collective, reciting an old
truth: this is not a new-trend revolution, the Kibbutz has introduce changes in his life from
the very beginning! In its first years, when ideology was still burning hot, most of them
decided at one stage to sew personal clothes for each, men and women, after the initial
period where everyone got his/her clothes dealt out to them every Friday (lithe eve of
). Some considered this as "the beginning of the end of the collective
, and that
was the war cry, too, when the first little electric kettles appeared and so on every few
But now, the changes many Kibbutzim underwent, turning more and more areas of collective
life over to private responsibility, this fearsome prophesy is becoming much more real. BUT
remember that most of these tlNew Kibbutzim" guard some of the old important principles:
taking care of "special cases" (children as well as adults), holding well-organized activities
for all, especially for the elders, heavy subsidies for health and education expenses and
Praise from the Right
Most Kibbutz members belong to the left-wing parties, and had to withstand often vicious
attacks from the right. This year the centenary carried with it a broader appreciation of the
Kibbutz movement, and we listened with wonder to the short speech by the Knesset member
Orly Levy, who could not deny the great part the Kibbutzim contributed to the building of
Israel, especially by their agricultural task of IIturning the desert into flourishing gardens". I
myself live on a Kibbutz, she said (not as a member!) and love the place, especially the well
organized and progressive education there that my children enjoy.
Against any Form of Discrimination
Lately we see with much joy and satisfaction, new feminists: members of the religious
Kibbutzim. Lali Alexander, member of Kibbutz Ein Tzurim (where she was born and raised),
works at the national center for victims of sexual attacks, but tries to bring about changes
on all fronts: the Kibbutz: as a girl I already refused to work in the kitchen or as childrens'
help, as an adult I joined the movement for religious women's equality, and I am happy to
note that this movement conquers an ever larger area in the Kibbutz Dati (Religious
Kibbutzim). This opens new vistas for the feminists in Israel and the world.
No Life Without Change?
A new, very well-written book, Tabula Rasa, appeared lately
(and will probably soon be translated from Hebrew into
English). Its veteran Kibbutz writer Nathan 5haham, is the
first one who deals with the "New Kibbutz" (some say "No
Nathan Shaham
Kibbutz"), that leads a life of "privatization", including
differential wages and paying for everything you need. For about 80 years such an
arrangement was unheard and un-imagined on a Kibbutz, but in the last 25 years thorough
changes brought forward a Kibbutz type that nobody thought possible before. The life our
writer describes so realistically is still being opposed by many, especially the founding and
other older members, but fully accepted and subscribed to by the younger generation.
The book's hero, Hanan, is an artist whose paintings were enthusiastically accepted by all and
used to be displayed on the walls in all public places, but at some stage Honan joined, heart
and soul, a modern school of abstract, and from that moment found himself under heavy
criticism from all sides, all members, including his own wife. His maxim "I don't want to
display reality, but the scratches that reality leaves on my heart", stays without power of
persuasion. At the age of 70, when he finds out that he can live on the Kibbutz pension but
certainly not pay for all his frames and papers and cloth and colors, he gives in and goes back
to his original realistic IIbeautiful" art, because that is lithe kitch that ordinary people in the
Israel love and pay for".
Today the majority of Kibbutzim have undergone these or Similar changes, and the discussion
goes on: are we still entitled to call ourselves Kibbutz? What do you think? Nearly all of you
readers of C.A.L.L. are members of communes and other communities, and I imagine that
your thoughts and answers might help us see ourselves more objectively. 50 please, voice
your opinion, write and enrich our internal soul-searching!
Founder-member Christobel Munson, writing this piece especially for C.A.L.L., tells us
about life in Jindibah Community, overlooking Byron Bay, NSW, Australia
At a working bee to plant 1000 native
rainforest seedlings
In 1994, when my partner Christopher Sanderson and I moved to a rural area near Byron Bay
on Australia's east coast, we realised it would be far more fun to create a community to share
with like-minded friends than trying to manage five acres by ourselves.
So with two other couples, we bought a 113-acre (46ha) run-down dairy farm and created
Jindibah - an intentional community for 12 households. It is more fun - but working things out
with other people rather than making your own decisions as 'king of your own castle' is far
more complex and takes heaps more time.
We decided to set up the community focusing on the
'triple bottom line'; that is, balancing the
environmental, the economic and social. The 'social' is
probably the most challenging - and rewarding.
House lots take up about 22 acres (9ha), with the
other 91 acres (37ha) divided between agricultural
land and areas where we are regenerating sub
tropical native rainforest. Each year we plant and
maintain another 1,000 indigenous seedlings along our
creek and on the steeper rocky slopes less suitable
for providing pasture for our herd of 25 beef cattle.
Today, we have 22 adult lot owners aged between 31
and 74 who have a total of 13 school-age kids. Living onsite are 16 adults (including three
renters), and seven children between 4-15 years, with more houses currently under
To operate the community, we elect an executive committee each year, as well as eight work
groups. They cover Property Management: Farm Management and Infrastructure
Maintenance (eg the 1.8km of paved internal roads, bridges, cows, pasture, water supply);
Information Technology (website and wireless broadband network); Regeneration (We've
planted 7,305 trees to date needing fencing and
ongoing maintenance until they mature); Admin.
Book-keeping and Legal; Communications and
Relationships; Bushfire and Emergencies; and
Business Opportunities. Finance and Planning.
Every aspect of efficiently running the
community happens through these groups, five of
which have budgets to cover necessary
expenditure. Lot owners choose which of the
groups they'd like to join and teams meet as
needed. A 'Neighbourhood Management Plan' sets out by-laws.
Ideally, the executive team convenes about every six weeks for a 90-minute meeting,
depending on how smoothly things are running. Informally, we meet more often. Each year we
hold about four externally facilitated half-day workshops to deal with interpersonal
relationships, learning more about each other and ourselves. We all try to get together once a
month to have a community breakfast by the creek, in the building built in the 1950s as a
dance hall for the local dairying community. It's a great location for meetings, parties and
A monthly breakfast in our community hall by Sleepy
Green living thrives in communes, eco-villages
USA Today
Aug 23, 2010
By Eileen Blass
Shared eco-friendly living is becoming increasingly popular in places that range from
communes to co-housing, eco-villages or intentional communities.
These are not the hippy, free-love communes of the 1960s,
but living arrangements that focus on organic farming, green
building, communal spaces and other aspects of sustainability.
liThe future of housing, in general, is sustainable
communities,lI Laura Mamo, a sociology professor at the
University of Maryland and co-author of Living Green, tells
Green House. She argues that Single-family homes on large
suburban lots have failed society, because they've created
social isolation, dependence on personal cars and intolerably
hefty mortgages for homeowners.
Mamo cites Takoma Village, the first co-housing community in
the Washington area. Located in Takoma Park, Md., it has 43
Alex Gibbs, 9,left, and his
apartments and townhouses that open to a central courtyard
brother Austin Gibbs, 8, ride a
and a common building where residents eat together.
pony cart on the grounds of
Lake Village Homestead in
Compact, walkable and energy-efficient neighborhoods are
Kalamazoo, Mich. in July 2007.
the goal of a program launched nationally in April by the U.S.
Green Building Council, known as the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)
for Neighborhood Development.
IIFrom Ithaca to Japan and Oregon to Sweden, green utopias are sprouting around the world,"
writes The Huffington Post, citing examples from Ithaca, N.Y., to Detroit, Ore. It elaborates
on seven of these modern-day eco-living alternatives:
1. EcoVillage (Ithaca, N.Y.) Ithaca, New York's answer to a modern day commune is
EcoVillage, a green utopia that houses 160 residents. Its 60 houses are split into two
housing groups, fROG and SONG, and are aI/low-impact and energy-efficient. The
third housing group, TREE, is currently being constructed and will house 30 more
homes. EcoVillage has a CSA vegetable farm and a U-Pick berry farm along with a root
cellar and community gardens. 80 percent of the commune's 175 acres wi II remain as
green space, 55 acres of which are already under protection through a conservation
easement from the Finger Lakes Land Trust. Residents volunteer 2 to 3 hours a week
by building furniture, farming or aSSisting with other necessary maintenance. future
endeavors for EcoVillage include creating organic orchards, greywater recycling, and
biodiesel and vegetable oil fuel production.
2. Do.ncing Rabbit (Rutledge, Mo.) Missouri's Dancing Rabbit is an intentional community
and eco-village that houses 50 residents. The goal of the intentional community is to
maintain the rural prairie by restoring the land to its pre-residential state. With
10,000 trees planted already, Dancing Rabbit is on its way
to achieving this goal. All power stems from renewable
sources, including solar and wind power, and the homes are
built from natural materials: straw veils, cob, and reclaimed
lumber. The water supply comes from rainwater.
3. Toyosato, a Yamagishi village (Mie Prefecture, Japan) A main component of the
Yamagishi movement, Toyosato, a sustainable farming cooperative, is home to 550
residents. Started by ten families in 1969, Toyosato is now one of the main farming
corporations in Japan. Toyosato also attempts to make the neighboring area more
sustainable. The cooperative donates compost to neighboring farms and also uses
factory byproducts from soy sauce and tofu production as livestock feed. Since 1960,
the Yamagishi movement has created 30 villages.
4. 8reitenbush Hot Springs (Detroit, Ore.) Breitenbush Hot Springs is a cooperative
that runs an on-site hot springs retreat and conference center. Each year, the
commune hosts 25,000 guests. Located east of Salem, Oregon in the Cascades,
Breitenbush houses 50 full-time residents with 30 summer time employees. The
commune uses geothermal power and hydropower as off-the-grid energy sources. To
join the commune, members must work for the cooperative for one year and purchase
a member share for $500.
5. Twin Oaks Commune (Louisa, Va.) With 85 adults and 15 children, Twin Oaks commune
in Louisa, Virginia is a communal living destination. Started in 1967, the residents at
Twin Oaks share their incomes and work 42 hours per week in the communal sectors
by making tofu, creating furniture and hammocks, farming, milking cows and aiding
with childcare.
6. Kolonilott and Understenhodgen (Stockholm, Sweden) Kolonilott are Swedish
communes ranging from gardening specific communes to summer only communes. In the
1900s, Sweden's government devoted land to be used for gardening as part of an act
to provide land to the lower classes. Although developed in Denmark, cohousing
communes are sprouting throughout Sweden. Located in Stockholm I s wooded "green
fingers" area, Understenhodgen composes 44 cohousing homes. This eco-friendly
lodging is a car-free location that offers district heating, waste recycling and a
. kindergarten program.
7. Nubanusit Neighborhood And Farm (Peterborough, N.H.) Nubanusit Neighborhood
And Farm is a cohousing community that boasts an organic farm, communal office
space and residences ranging from Single family to four-unit dwellings. Located
adjacent to Nubanusit Brook, residents reside in their own homes yet share seventy
acres of farm land, woodlands, pond and fields. The residents all participate in a CSA
and rely on on-site cows and chickens for dairy and milk. Each residence in the
commune is LEED Platinum certified.
Germany: Kommuja - Commune Treffen 2010
Natali from Ko Wa (Kommune Waltershausen) reports:
The 22
meeting of the German network of political communes, Kommuja, took place
in the grounds and buildings of the KoWa commune in Waltershausen, Thuringia,
between 3
and 6
of June, 2010.
In the sunny meadows and open
spaces around the KoWa the 14 hosts
from the commune and 40 members
of other German communes enjoyed
workshops dealing with many aspects
of communal life. How is it possible to
reconcile or combine self-employment
with a communal economy? How do
you find a balance between "work"
and really free time? How do the
organisational structures have to
adapt to fit-the quantative growth in
Kommune Waltershausen communities? These were the themes
of a number of talking circles which
presented their results every evening at the large plenary meeting.
The stored up solar energy was released by many into wild dancing at the party on
Friday. Who ever had not had enough of heat and talk could enjoy the Saturday
evening chatting by a camp fire through the mild night.
What did we take home with us? Lots of positive stimulus, new contacts, happy
The planning for Los Gehts 2011 and for the Kommune InfoTour has started. It is
clear which groups will put out the next issues of the "Kommuja", our 'internal
bulletin. [The communes that are part of the Kommuja network take it in turns to
produce this publication]. A commune book is in preparation. There are ideas for a
joint political action by the network. The first, small fine step in this direction is the
network's common solidarity statement against the nuclear waste dump at Gorleben
which was decided upon at this commune meeting.
And, oh yeah, we got a message from this year's BUKO (Bundeskoordination
Internationalismus - the Federal Coordination for Internationalism), saying they had
decided that "On the 22
of April. 2011. capitalism will be abolished". Before
that really happens we still have a lot to clear up and do.
- - - ~ - - - - - - -
Here we publish a report by Bill Metcalf about the recent International Communal
Studies Association (ICSA) Conference held in Israel this summer. This article was
originally written for Communities Magazine.
Early Monday, 28 June, about 130 ICSA members assembled at Emek Yezreel College,
Israel, for our tenth conference. We had come from Norway, Australia, Spain, Canada,
Germany, New Zealand, Italy, Mexico, Poland, USA, UK and, of course, Israel.
The boring process of registration and orientation was frequently interrupted by warm
greetings from old friends and colleagues - and soothed by excellent coffee and cakes.
ICSA President, Professor Michal Palgi, had arranged everything so efficiently that we
were soon doing what we all do so well: talking and listening about a wide range of
communal studies issues.
We spent our first day in one of two parallel sessions with titles ranging from
"Cooperatives" to "Women's Changing Perceptions of Motherhood". In the evening, our
ICSA conference was officially opened, after which awards were bestowed upon
Professors Donald Pitzer and Yaacov Oved, the founders of ICSA in 1985. Awards were
also bestowed on ICSA past PreSidents, Professor Pearl Bartelt, Dr Saskia Poldervaart,
Dr Bill Metcalf, Professor Tim Miller, Professor Dennis Hardy and Dr Michal Palgi. A
Special Service Award was presented to Ruth Sobol, our long-serving and universally
respected administrator. Ruth has a special p1ace in the heart of every past preSident.
Yaacov Oved, Bill Metcalf and Dennis Hardy then formed a panel and briefly addressed
members, recounting humorous accounts of their experiences with ICSA over the past
25 years. After so much talk we were relieved to be entertained by members of the
Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company, and a witty video presentation.
Then, at long last, we sat down to a superb dinner with excellent wine, and were able to
catch up with old friends and make new ones.
The second day, perhaps due to the effects of all that excellent wine of last night,
started off slowly, again with parallel sessions. Titles ranged from "Facing the Challenges
of Ecology" to "Kibbutzim & Higher Education" and "Conflict & Participation in
Partnerships". We then went to Merhavia, a very important historical site, where we
toured the grounds, and were entertained by 'Shan;' an excellent Arab-Jewish girls' choir.
We dined outside in Merhavia's courtyard. The food was not so good as the first night
nor was the wine either as good or as plentiful - so we went home with clearer heads.
The final day of our conference again saw us in sessions with titles ranging from
"Leadership and Political Thought" to "Judaism & Communes" and "Old Dreams - New
Horizons? Kibbutz Women Revisited". Anton Marks and Jan Bang led an innovative session
devoted to Community Story Telling, which was enthUSiastically received.
The conference concluded with a plenary session "The Relevance of the Communal Idea in
Today's Society", chaired by Professor EHezer Ben Raphael. Panelists Yaacov Oved, Bill
Metcalf, Jan Bang, Nomika Zion and Graham Meltzer pointed out ways that communal
ideas are more relevant than ever in our contemporary world. By then, however, most of
us were just about talked (and listened) out.
The next morning we set off, by bus, on a post-conference tour organised by James
Grant-Rosenhead, of Kibbutz Mish'ol. We started at Kinneret Courtyard, a crucial site in
the development of the kibbutz, then to Degania, the first kibbutz and now 100 years
old. Our final stop for the day was at Kibbutz Lavi, an Orthodox Jewish group who adhere
to traditional kibbutz ways and appear to be prospering. We were shown around by
members, then dined with them in their luxurious Hotel Lavi. This huge hotel is one of
their main businesses.
On the second day we started off at Kibbutz Beit Ha'emek where long-time ICSA
member Professor Henry Near welcomed us. A panel of kibbutz members told us about
their privatisation process, with some being enthusiastic, others with reservations and
some seeing it as disastrous. We were deeply affected by the strong emotions which
privatisation evoked at Kibbutz Beit Ha'emek. Enthusiastic proponents of 'privatisation'
do not like that term, preferring instead the Orwellian newspeak term of "renewal
We dined in an Arab cafe in Sachnin, then visited nearby Kibbutz Eshbal, a recently
formed group of young people engaged in education and support for 'at-risk' young people.
Far from the comfortable, almost luxurious ambience of the kibbutzim Degania, Beit
Ha'emek and Lavi, Eshbal showed us the hard-edged reality of being a rural kibbutz
pioneer in the 21
Our tour ended at Kibbutz Mish'ol where we were addressed by several members, then
joined kibbutzniks in their Shabbat ceremony and meal. Kibbutz Mish'ol was a very
welcoming and appropriate conclusion to our post-conference tour.
As always, the ICSA Board met during the conference under the convenorship of
President Michal Palgi. We decided to hold our next conference in June 2013 at Findhorn
Foundation, Scotland, with Dr Graham Meltzer responsible for conference organisation.
ICSA's new President is Jan Bang, of Norway. The ICSA Board welcomed new members
Olive Jones (from New Zealand), Professor Marisa Gonzales de Oleaga (from Spain),
Professor Maria Foelling-Albers (from Germany) and Shlomo Getz and Yona Prital (from
For me, our conference and post-conference tour were successful not because I learned
new information about intentional communities but because I reconnected with old
colleagues and friends, and made new connections. My good memories are not based on
seeing yet more examples of communal living but because I once again shared the paSSion
of communards.
I thank Michal Palgi and Shlomo Getz and their team at Emek Yezreel College, as well as
the four Kibbutz research Institutes: The Institute for Research of the Kibbutz and the
Cooperative Idea, University of Haifa, Yad Tabenkin, Yad Yaari and Oranim, for
organising the conference so efficiently. I also want to thank James Grant-Rosenhead
for organising the excellent post-conference tour.
I look forward to being at ICSA2013 at Findhorn Foundation and hope that you will join
Bill is one of the foremost researchers in the intentional communities field A former president of
ICSA, Bill has written several books on the subject, based on his own experiences of living communally,
andhis visits to over 100 communities.
Save the Planet. Share a Roof
By Chris Cannon, 28 April 2010,
Tucked away in the residential Dunbar neighborhood of Vancouver, Canada - just
steps from a busy Kitsilano thoroughfare - the Mackenzie Heights Collective has been
functioning since 1970 as an "intentional
community," the popular term for a collection of
residents that prefer to live in a group house for
economic, environmental, and social reasons. Dozens
of residents have called the Collective home over
the years, evidenced by a bulletin board of dated
photos and a downstairs full of inherited furniture
and board games.
Currently housing five adults (ranging in age from mid-20s to mid-40s) and a toddler,
the Collective is a model of shared-resources commitment. "We've got 2,700 square
feet in the house that none of us could afford individually," says Colin Van Uchelen,
who has lived in the house since 1993.
"One family would have filled this whole house rather than five adults. We don't need
more than one lawnmower, one drill, one shove" one BBQ. We each contribute 29
dollars a month in a shared fund, and that fund is used
to buy things of benefit to us all, things that contribute
to all our well-being and our communal property..'
"It enlarges me psychologically in the same way it
enlarges me practically," says the Mackenzie
Collective's Colin, whose PhD work, coincidentally,
focused on empowerment in collectivistic systems.
"What I have access to is so much bigger than what I'd
have on my own in a little apartment. It equals your
access to resources, both physical space and social
The cornerstone of a shared living model is rooted in the intertwined benefits of
practical savings and social enrichment. The garden at the Mackenzie house -
featuring salad greens, peas, beans, squash, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries,
leeks, and herbs -- doesn't just allow grocery savings, but provides an opportunity for
group effort that benefits the collective. The rest of the groceries are purchased
from local, organic sources using a common food fund. Each resident takes a turn
cooking dinner once a week, and then everyone cleans the kitchen together
For some, though, the opportunity to connect with others may be reason enough. As
Colin admits, "I just like having people to say hi to when I come home."
Ethiopian egalitarian community thrives I
Natalie Orenstein
November 2, 2010
Nestled in Ethiopia's rural Debub Gondar Zone exists Awra Amba, a small, utopian
community in which men cook supper and religious observance is taboo.
Sixty-three-year-old Zumra Nuru, a longtime promoter of gender equality and
religious freedom, founded the society in the 1980s. As a child, Nuru was skeptical of
the inequality he observed on a daily
"My mother woke up long before it was
dawn and started to mill grains," he said
in an Action Aid report. "My father
never helped her. He rather slept until
late in the morning. I questioned why
things should go this way but nobody
had the answer. I kept on inquiring into
these and other unacceptable practices
for. which no one had the answers." Zumra Nuru
In Awra Amba, which now boasts four
hundred members and a long waiting list I labor is divided equally among male and
female residents. Both participate in traditionally gendered tasks, such as plowing
and caring for children. Each member belongs to either the development committee,
or one of nine sub-committees that specialize in areas including education, care for
the elderlyI and agriculture.
"This community is a haven for women," said new Awra Amba member Fantaye Adem
in an IPS report. Adem was married at 13, before Ethiopia declared a minimum
of 18 in 2005. this recent national law is frequently neglected in
other parts of the country, Awra
Amba has had a minimum marriage
age of 19 for women ~ n d 20 for men
since its conception.
Additionally, Awra Amba women are
granted three months maternity
leave and domestic violence is
forbidden. In the rest of the nation,
female genital mutilation and
Men and women weave together
domestic abuse is prevalent.
"Our men do not oppress us and we have established a tradition of correcting one
another's mistakes through discussions," an Awra Amba woman told the Ethiopian
Students Association.
Religious observance is handled in a similarly unconventional manner. Though Ethiopia
is a heavily religious nation, and all community members were previously practicing
Orthodox Christians or Muslims, worship is outlawed in the commune.
"I thought, why not make one family?" said Nuru, who was raised a Muslim. "There is
one God. So why not unite? Honesty and love for fellow human beings is our religion."
Community members have explained that they believe God wants them to use their
energy to create a just and humanitarian society, instead of to worship.
Nuru, whose name means "Father of the being beaten by his parents
when he ate meat at a Christian friend's house as a child.
Though Awra Amba could claim only 19 members when Nuru founded it, the thriving
community has received international acclaim in recent years. It has also been the
subject of several documentary films.
"I regard it as the model for the world
community on how gender issues should be
treated," said EU Ambassador to Ethiopia
Tim Clarke in a Christian Science Monitor
report. "I have come across nothing else
like it anywhere in Africa-and indeed the
world. I am using it to inspire the work of
my office here on gender mainstreaming
and empowerment of women."
"These people have developed their own
values and we know all members observe these values voluntarily," said Zelalem
Getachew, a spokesperson for the Amhara Regional State Women's Affairs Bureau.
Though the commune's social success is evident, it has had its share of the poverty
that plagues surrounding rural villages. Because much of their forty-three acres is
unfertile, community members cannot make a living by farming. Instead, they sell
woven items made with both modern and traditional weaving machines. They also
possess three donated grinding mills, which bring in additional
Weaving is typically associated with women and the lower class in Ethiopia, but men
and women work together at Awra Amba's plant. Nuru stresses the importance of
manual labor and craft skills while ensuring that each member of the community
learns to read and write as well, though he never did.
The residents hope to raise money to install a sewage system, pave the roads, and
expand the community. In the meantime, anyone can take a tour.
"I was completely captivated by my visit to the community," said Clarke.




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